What to Know About: General Contractors »
Whether your home needs a complete renovation, or a room needs to be repaired, there are some things to know before you hire.
Whether your home needs a complete renovation, or a room needs to be repaired, there are some things to know before you hire.
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Brownlee Construction put a new roof on my home in 2011 after the hail storm. At the time, I marveled at how quickly the work progressed from beginning to end. It seemed as if that new roof was up in no time. In retrospect, I should have asked my salesman a lot more questions, such as what kind of flashing was being used in the valleys of my roof… what kind of method were the roofers using to overlap the shingles to ensure a watertight home. So now, six years later how would I assess the quality of work? Horrible! If you’re looking for a roof that keeps out rain, a business responsive to your needs, professionals that provide competent work and honor their word, Brownlee Construction IS NOT the company for you. However, if you like a smooth sales pitch, a company quick to cash the check, or if you have money to waste and are looking for a business to provide you an endless parade of excuses as to when they will come inspect and repair their shoddy workmanship only to find out they have no intention of doing either, then you should give Brownlee Construction serious consideration. But… BEWARE! If you do decide to hire them, go ahead and get a quote for the installation of inside gutters while you’re at it, because you are going to need them. Call today, and ask for Greg.Sam Taylor IIIKnoxville, TN
I unfortunately have been using American Boat Center for the past several years for winterizations and to get my Boat sea worthy for the summer. Each time I pick my boat up it is full of grease stain on the interior, exterior, and also step fenders on the trailer. Last year I did call them to let them know and figured after getting it back this year the same filthy way that this is the way they do business. Each time I bring my boat in they Always call me to SELL me additional work they say needs to be completed and even though their prices are VERY HIGH I always have them complete the work so I wont have a problem while out on the water with my family. This year summarize cost $588.which included other work that was Sold to me to make my boat sea worthy. Today I took my boat out for the First time this summer and the boat would not stay running and eventually it would not run at all. We were stuck about 10 minutes from the boat ramp and after several hours some nice boater stopped to help and towed us back to the ramp. This is not a reliable repair shop so if you don't want to be stranded on the water stay clear of the service department. My boat is 19 foot with a 5.0 motor. TWO THUMBS DOWN TO AMERICAN BOAT CENTER SERVICE DEPARTMENT.
DO NOT EVER GO TO NORTH KNOX AUTO also known as NORTH KNOX WHOLESALE!They don't care about customer satisfaction at all! Once they get your money, you no longer matter to them. THE OWNERS NAME IS GREG AILOR. Here's my story:I purchased an 06 Nissan Titan from them at the end of May. I picked it up, drove to West Knoxville and on my way back home the check engine light came on. I went back to the dealer and they ran the code, said it was an O2 sensor and cleared the code. I went home to change the oil, when I checked the dipstick, there wasn't any oil on it. Changed the oil and tooled around town the next day, when I got home again I smelled burning oil from the exhaust. I checked the oil level and found no oil on the dipstick again. Called the dealer and told them what was going on, they told me to take it to their mechanic and he would look at it. I had to go to work the next day but scheduled the truck to be taken In 3 days later. During those 3 days I went thru 7 quarts of oil! I dropped the truck off and checked back 4 days later after not hearing from anyone. The mechanic informed me the dealership owner said he wouldn't pay him to even check the truck out. I called the guy who I dealt with when I bought it and told him what the mechanic said, he told me he would take care of it. The next day the mechanic said he was told the dealership wouldn't pay for anything. I went to talk to them in person and asked them to repair it or refund my money. The dealer referred me to the owner, GREG AILOR, so I explained everything to him and he told me "You made a big boy decision, put on your big boy underwear and live with your decision". Not very good business or customer appreciation tactics if you ask me. I've since found out my piston rings are blowing by and I need a new engine ( cheaper than replacing the rings ) which is $5000.00! Stay away from this place!
DO NOT USE THIS COMPANY!!! Poor workmanship that they DO NOT stand behind! Did siding job that was done poorly. Needed to be redone. Sent people out 3 or more times to just retack. Even one of their guys said it was not done correctly to begin with.
Had a two car garage built by pro tech and have no doubt they are some of the worst carpenters I've ever seen.They slap It together and have zero pride in their work!The garage collects water when it rains and no expansion joints in the concrete driveway.The driveway has cracked in several places.Shop around and find a contractor that knows what the hell they are doing.Total waste of $22,000.00 and I hope they go out of business
We consulted with Master Construction Alliance on a project for approximately 3 months, giving the proposal of our full project at the onset. Our budget was discussed and raised at their suggestion. After investing several months' time and money in this company, they came back with a budget of well over double what we had been discussing from the beginning (i.e., our budget was $130,000; they presented us with a $280,000 project without changing the scope of the project!!). We firmly believe that the philosophy of this company is to come in with an extreme number in order to negotiate the homeowner's budget somewhere quite a bit higher than what was originally planned or budgeted. Further, we paid $1500 for renovation plans that we were never able to have delivered by them or refunded. This company is out to scam people. Would strongly recommend checking references before even beginning to consult with them.
They service our pool and do an excellent job!!! If we ever have a problem they take care of it right away. They are very knowledgeable, and have a great staff! We even purchased a Big Green Egg grill there and they showed us everything about it and came and set it up!! They are first class all the way!! I would highly recommended them!!
Skip Atchley was hired to paint the interior of our home in October 2016. Almost, six months later, has no intention, or concern to finish painting our home. We have our furniture and belongings in our garage. And, we are sleeping on concrete floors. We paid him $5800 and he did 10% percent of this job. A bad job, too! Excuse after Excuse as to why he can not back to finish such as daughter is sick, in the hospital, wife is sick, cars are broken, he went back to school! EXCUSE AFTER EXCUSE. Not a concern that we had paid him to paint our house. A simple project, for a painter. He even had an excuse that he is busy working on another job. We paid you, you took our hard-earned money, spent it on your bills, and have no concern to finish your job. We are planning legal action against this Dude. Apparently, we did not read these reviews, as he has been doing this to many people. He is a thief and fraud. Please do not hire him.
Run away from this one!!Robin & Dustin, wish I had a chance to see these before I hired him on 3-23-15. That's when he started our's, conned us out of a lot of upfront$$Would even tell us he was on his way & still not show up. Seems like a pattern for this crook. Walked leaving 25% unfinished! Always excuses, daughter sick, car broke down, etc.
NEVER HIRE THIS CON ARTIST, SKIP ATCHLEY. HE AND HIS WIFE, AMANDA WILL COME FOR THE JOB ESTIMATE. AND TELL YOU THAT CUSTOMER'S ARE NOT PAYING THEM, SO YOU FEEL OBLIGATED TO PAY THEM UPFRONT. HE FINISHED 15% OF HIS JOB, AND NEVER COMES BACK. DAILY EXCUSES, SICK KIDS, CAR IS BROKE, NO MONEY, AFTER HE WAS PAID FOR THE JOB..... EXCUSE AFTER EXCUSE. A REAL BAD PERSON. CON ARTIST. BE WARE OF HIM!
There has perhaps never been a better tool for do-it-yourself home handymen than the internet. With detailed instructions and videos explaining how to perform a number of common maintenance and renovation tasks around a house, an untrained homeowner might be surprised at how much he or she can accomplish with a quick search online. But even with all of this information, there are still many jobs that lie far outside the scope of most DIY enthusiasts. General contractors are there to fill in this gap.
A general contractor specializes in seeing a home remodel or repair project through from start to finish. To do this, the contractor works with the client - whether they are a homeowner or business - to nail down the scope of the work. Then he or she will turn to one or more subcontractors for specific tasks, like equipment operation, design, electrical work or whatever else is needed.
In essence, general contractors could be thought of as middlemen between a homeowner or business owner and any number of specialists. To get their money's worth, many assume they should just "cut out the middleman" and hire specialists directly, but this often proves more difficult in practice. General contractors won't be completing an entire project by themselves, but should have a long list of dependable experts who can work together and accomplish any task. They might also serve as the manager on the site of a construction project, overseeing workers and providing guidance and assistance when needed. For larger projects, though, the contractor might only handle administrative matters and employ a foreman or other professional for on-site supervision.
There are many general contractors who also specialize in certain tasks themselves. There is usually at least one general contractor on hand to organize the construction of an entire home, for example. But general contractors could also help a homeowner add an additional bedroom, build an in-ground pool or complete a major landscaping project. They could also work with a business to add or improve office space, whether that means making more room or converting a commercial building from a nail salon to a restaurant. Basically, if it's a job that involves building or repairing, a general contractor probably knows how to get it done.
No matter what the exact job may be, a contractor will probably need to accomplish several other essential tasks in pursuit of the ultimate goal, which may include:
Every general contractor performing any kind of work on a project must be licensed to do so in their state. The guidelines for the specifics on licensing vary from state to state. Some states might only require registration of contractors, which is different from licensing. Registration typically means that there must be a written record of what work is being performed and by whom, but it does not guarantee professional knowledge. Licensing, on the other hand, involves an examination process to assess professional competence.
Whether your state requires licensing or registration of contractors, there should be a record of most professionals willing to complete certain projects in your area. Check your state or county website for more information. In states that require licensing, every licensed contractor's contact information is available online or from another public source.
Not every project needs to be completed by a licensed or registered contractor. If it's just a minor job that won't take more than a day or two, and will cost less than a few hundred dollars, it's likely not necessary to find a licensed or registered contractor. However, anything bigger or more expensive, or a project involving plumbing or electrical work, needs to be completed by a licensed or registered professional.
General contractors also must be covered by an insurance policy. This should include liability coverage for any property damage that could be inflicted in the course of a job. It should also include a worker's compensation policy in case anyone is injured on the job. Before hiring a contractor for anything, ask for written proof of this insurance to see exactly what is covered.
A number of trade associations for contractors in the U.S. exist. Some of the biggest include:
Most trade associations for general contractors will provide references for anyone looking to hire a contractor for a specific project. They may also provide a number of benefits for their members, including assistance with licensing, training, insurance and business development.
No matter what you need accomplished, you want to choose a contractor who can get the job done right at a reasonable price. Obviously, this is easier said than done, but there are a few steps you can take to ensure you find a trustworthy general contractor.
The first, and perhaps most reliable, way to find a general contractor is to ask friends and family members for a recommendation. If you know anyone who has had major work done on their home, particularly if it's a similar job, ask them who they hired and if they were pleased with the result. You could also ask neighbors about who they've hired if you notice work being done on their house. Many remodeling contractors post signs in front of homes to advertise their services. As a general rule, it's rarely a good idea to hire a contractor who solicits work by going door to door.
If you are considering hiring a contractor without a personal recommendation, ask the contractor for references from past clients, and do as much background research on them as possible. Look for any complaints (or compliments) online to get a better idea of their track record. There are a number of websites specializing in connecting contractors with people or businesses who need work done. These sites may also allow past clients to submit their own reviews of the contractor.
Before hiring a contractor, make sure you are both in agreement on the project's budget. It's normal for most contractors to charge clients a premium not only for the labor expenses and zoning expertise, but for acquiring the materials as well. Be as clear and concise as possible regarding what you'll be purchasing yourself and what you will be paying the contractor to complete. Homeowners may be able to find a better deal on raw materials when they purchase these directly, but they first need to be sure they aren't buying the wrong things.
Don't forget to discuss how the project will be finalized and what will be done about cleanup. Plans for how the work site will be cleaned at the end of each day as well as at the conclusion of work need to be put in writing. An experienced general contractor should make every effort to keep the workspace clean and prevent dirtying or damaging any other area. Even so, talk with the contractor about the daily schedule, the logistics of transporting workers and equipment, and how cleanup will be handled.
As previously mentioned, you need to make sure to follow any state and local regulations regarding construction work, which includes hiring a licensed or registered general contractor. Ask the contractor for proof of their certification before signing anything, as well as their proof of insurance. You should also check your homeowners insurance policy to see if they offer coverage for contracted work. You may want to call your insurance provider and ask for more details on what your plan will and won't cover.
Perhaps the best way to feel safe about a contractor and the work being done is to hire a contractor you trust. This is why relying on personal references from friends and family is so important, and will often provide a great deal of peace of mind. If you aren't able to obtain a reference, work to conduct extensive research on the contractor as well as the work you are hiring them to perform. This should bring everyone's expectations into alignment and result in a safe work environment.
Before any money changes hands, there should be a contract to sign. Make sure the specifics of the work to be done and all costs are listed in the contract, right down to the most precise details. If you forget to have something included in the contract after signing it, there's rarely a chance of recourse.
Once the specifics of the job are nailed down, be sure to discuss the payment schedule with the contractor. This is important because paying too much up front offers the homeowner minimal leverage if the quality of work does not meet expectations or contractual specifications. Try to establish a reasonable pay schedule with the contractor, such as paying 10 percent of the total cost for each 10 percent of the work that is completed. It's a good idea to include this payment plan in the contract as well.
Finally, look into getting a lien release signed before work begins. If there is ever a dispute regarding payment over the course of the project, a contractor or subcontractor could place a payment claim, or lien, on your property. This can trigger a long legal process that may be frustrating. To avoid this, ask the contractor to sign a lien release, which is a legal agreement that states that any payment accepted is final. This can come in handy if a contractor has his or her own payment issues with their subcontractors. Signing a lien release form certifies that any payment made by a client to the contractor is enough to pay for any goods or services rendered. A lien dispute could also be prevented by performing due diligence prior to picking a contractor, as any contractor with good credit and a long track record of satisfied clients should have no trouble paying for materials and labor once all contract conditions have been met.
Once work is underway, it's never a bad idea to check up on the progress of the job, either by staying in touch with the contractor over the phone or visiting the site in person. If you work with a trustworthy professional, it's probably best to keep your distance and allow everyone to stay busy. If you want to keep an eye on things, make sure workers wear the right safety gear and that everything looks to be moving along according to schedule. Finally, once work is finished and you are satisfied, be sure to thank your contractor and tell friends or family members about your experience.